The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iceland and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Akureyri on September 29, 2011 for the purpose of strengthening cooperation between Iceland and Norway in the field of Arctic scientific research, including the establishment of a Nansen Professorship in Arctic Studies at the University of Akureyri. The Professorship is named after the famous Norwegian polar scientist and humanist Fridtjof Nansen and is awarded each year for a twelve-month period to a leading scientist (each year awarded to candidates from different fields of study) working with issues that bear on legal, economic, social, political, international and natural circumstances in the Arctic.
The Nansen-professor is stationed at the University of Akureyri and the professorship is awarded to an individual (an academic or researcher) who conducts research on Arctic issues of common interest between Iceland and Norway.
The current Nansen-professor is Dr. Jessica Shadian. Previous Nansen-professors are Dr. Astrid Ogilvie (2014) and Dr. Natalia Loukacheva (2013).
Primary responsibilities are:
- To contribute to the research, teaching and further development of relevant programmes at the University of Akureyri.
- To work closely with other researchers in furthering the Northern research and teaching milieu at the University of Akureyri and contribute to the development of the University of the Arctic.
- To give public lectures on Arctic issues in local, national and international fora and to participate in the contemporary debate on changes in the Arctic.
- To disseminate research findings to the governments of both Iceland and Norway.
- To be available to advise public officials on relevant topics.